Sustainability strategy

At Suominen, sustainability means that we take also environmental and social matters into account in our decision-making. Our sustainability strategy – the first of its kind at Suominen – was composed at the end of 2014 to support our business targets. It defines precisely where we should target our efforts and resources. Sustainability was not, however, a new concept for us. Still, this was the first time we clearly laid down its strategic importance and specified which themes are the most crucial to us and our stakeholders.

In practice, the sustainability strategy crystallizes our focus areas in promoting sustainable development, as well as our key projects for the strategy period 2015–2017.

The focus areas of sustainability for Suominen, determined through a materiality analysis, are:

  • Reaching product leadership
  • Operating sustainably across the company
  • Fostering responsibility through the value chain

As Suominen’s purpose is to make nonwovens continuously better for people, it is worth keeping in mind that sustainability is not present only in specific projects or programs. In fact, almost the opposite is true: sustainability is a day-to-day matter that is concretized, for example, in the development of more responsible products and in all interaction with our stakeholders.

Reaching the product leadership

Reaching product leadership is also a key target of Suominen’s business strategy. It is a prerequisite for meeting the company’s growth targets.
Reaching product leadership is possible if Suominen succeeds in:

  • creating the best value-adding product range in carefully selected markets. This requires effective product development and good management of the product range.
  • building a corporate culture that enables the achievement of product leadership.
  • making sure that the company has the right capabilities.

Product safety is the starting point for Suominen’s production. Suominen’s production plants ensure that the products meet the high technical and hygiene standards set by the customers. The product range offered by the leader in the non-wovens industry is, in all respects, not just safe, but also composed in such a way that it takes into account the sustainability requirements of consumers and other end users. The raw materials selected for use in nonwovens, for example, have a significant impact on the environmental impacts of the end product, such as wet wipes, for its entire life cycle. Suominen’s goal is to continue to use more and more raw materials from renewable sources in its product range, which will mean that in many cases the end product will be disposable, for instance, through composting. In 2015, Suominen launched a separate project to develop the sustainability of its product range.

Operating sustainably across the company

Sustainable operations throughout the organization cover such areas as health, safety and environmental (HSE) matters, good management of human resources, and general ways of working as defined by Suominen’s Code of Conduct. Suominen’s customers typically incorporate sustainability aspects into the criteria they use to select their nonwovens supplier, which is another reason why good management of these issues is important for the whole company.

Suominen is committed to offering its employees a safe and healthy work environment. The target of zero lost-time accidents has been set. In 2014, Suominen launched the Behavior Based Safety program, which focuses on the attitudes, behavior and working methods of the employees, and was one of the best performing companies in its industry in terms of occupational safety indicators.

To ensure the well-being of the work community and equal career opportunities throughout the Group, Suominen introduced a development project in 2015 to prevent discrimination at the workplace and promote equal career opportunities.

The key to reducing the environmental load from the company’s operations is the efficient use of resources (raw materials, energy, water, etc.). Suominen monitors its resource efficiency and reports on it annually. In 2015, the spotlight will mainly be on improving Suominen’s water and energy efficiency.

Fostering responsibility through the value chain

Suominen strives to foster responsibility throughout its value chain and focuses especially on fulfilling the demands inherent in its own role. When the nonwovens supplied by Suominen meet or even exceed the requirements set by the customer in every respect, it means that the converting of nonwovens into wiping or hygiene or medical products is efficient and that the end product also fulfils its intended purpose and is safe to use.

The closest links to Suominen in its value chain are customers and goods and services suppliers. Suominen fosters long-term and mutually beneficial, confidential relationships with its customers, suppliers and other business partners.

Suominen has been engaged in a dialogue about sustainability with its customers for a long time. Meeting the sustainability criteria stemming from consumers’ needs and passed on to Suominen by customer companies is a condition for most non-wovens deliveries.

In terms of financial value, the most crucial suppliers are raw material suppliers, and sustainability has played a role in Suominen’s purchasing decisions for some time. In 2015, Suominen started to draft a separate Supplier Code of Conduct, laying down the sustainability commitments it requires from its suppliers. The goal of the Supplier Code of Conduct is to create and reinforce ethical ways of operating in the value chain.


Sustainability reporting


Suominen’s Annual Report 2016 examines sustainability from the social, environmental and economic perspectives of responsibility. We report on our sustainability work every year in the Annual Report.

Health, safety and environmental data is collected from Suominen’s production units. In accordance with the materiality principle, locations that do not have production operations are not included in the data.

The graphics in the Sustainability section present historical data as of 2012 and reflect Suominen’s continuing operations.

The Windsor Locks plant in CT, USA, is co-operated by Suominen and Ahlstrom Corporation. Only the resources used by Suominen at the Windsor Locks plant are taken into account in the environmental figures. In the safety indicators, personnel who have worked on Suominen’s production lines but are not on Suominen’s payroll are excluded.

We continuously develop our sustainability reporting with the goal of open, meaningful and equal stakeholder communication.